May 2011 Archives

Secret Kitchen menu, 28th May 2011

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smelderflowers0005.jpgflavours of May

Elderflower champagne
Goat’s cheese crostini with rhubarb & anise chutney
Ricotta crostini with nettle & wild garlic pesto

Spinach soup with crème fraîche

Poached Loch Duart salmon with watercress and minted cucumber yoghurt,
spring greens with wet garlic & Puy lentils,
Cornish new potatoes with wild garlic butter, poached asparagus with boiled eggs

Rhubarb fool and elderflower fritters

Elderflower Delight
Coffee, biscotti and liqueurs

Hubbub Cooks Italian dinner, Tues 17th May 2011

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HUBBUB_STRAP_red.png‘Hubbub Cooks’ is a series of cooking classes I am running in collaboration with Hubbub - a fantastic little company that delivers top quality food from my local independent shops - butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, deli and more.  The classes are open to anyone, and will be for just eight people at a time so everyone will get plenty of action.  10% off if you book three classes!

Mediterranean series
We'll be cooking up delicious meals using the distinctive flavours and traditional techniques from countries around the Mediterranean where I have spent time on my travels researching the local culinary culture:  Morocco on 15th Feb, Turkey on 15th March and Italy on 17th May.  We'll use the best seasonal produce from my local shops, and classes will end in a convivial meal around the table with wine.

smbiscotti0001.jpgSample Italian menu:
(the final menu will depend on ingredient availability and guests' preferences)

Spring minestrone with pesto
Grilled rib eye ‘tagliata’ with rocket
Vanilla pod panna cotta with rhubarb
Almond & anise biscotti with espresso

Date:  Tuesday 17th May 2011

Time:  10am - 2pm, repeated 6pm - 10pm

Location:  London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)

Price:  £60 per person per class. 
10% off when you book three or more Hubbub Cooks classes. 

To book:  Email Hubbub
, call them on 020 7354 5511 or book online on their website

Cooking Club, Tues 10th & Weds 11th May 2011

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Smrhubarbcustard0009.JPGThe Cooking Club is a monthly series of classes that you can dip in and out of as you please.  Classes are usually held on the second Tuesday and Wednesday of the month, 6-10pm.  At each class we cook a seasonal supper, the stars of which are Riverford's beautiful organic vegetables and fruits. 

Each class focuses on different produce and culinary techniques, so if you attend several they form a course.  You will develop knife skills and learn easy but delicious dishes you can repeat at home.

Classes end with an informal meal together around the table with some good wine, and recipes to take home. 

SmMoroccanClass0805100010.JPG"I had a great time last night - it was fun, informative and relaxing."

“The Cooking Club was such GREAT fun and DELICIOUS … I very much look forward to coming back.”

Example menu for early summer 2011:
(exact menus depend on ingredient availability and guests’ preferences)
Purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise
Courgette fritters with wild garlic yoghurt dip
Vanilla pots de creme with poached rhubarb

Date:  Tuesday 10th, repeated Wednesday 11th May 2011

Time:  6 - 10pm

Location:  London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)

Price:  £40 per person per class.  Or £35 if you book 3 Cooking Club class places, which could be 3 for you, or you plus 2 friends, or as gifts, or any combination of those options.

To book:  Email Anna
  Please read the booking terms & conditions before booking your place.  Thank you.


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smpastafactoryitaly07080002.jpgSome notes on that store-cupboard staple we take for granted...

There are over 800 different named pasta shapes.  Some of these are just regional names for pretty much the same thing though.  Some of their names translate as ‘small bulls’, ‘little muffs’, ‘scruffy hats’, ‘pot bellied’, ‘little worms’, ‘bridegrooms’ or ‘little moustaches’.

That Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy from China is a plain fabrication.  Nobody knows who first made it.  The Ancient Romans, Greeks and Etruscans were enjoying pasta long before Marco came along, and the Arabs probably invented the kind of dried pastas we are used to today.  They are thought to have introduced it to Sicily in the 12th century.

smpastafactoryitaly07080001.jpgBut pasta was not commonly found on Italian dining tables until the second half of the 19th century.  Its proliferation then seems to be due to a combination of factors - Neapolitan influence carried north by Garibaldi’s returning army, new strains of wheat becoming available, and the industrial revolution which mechanised production.  And it was in America that the idea of pasta as a main course developed.  Italian immigrants generated the demand in the US which fuelled the mechanisation back home in Italy.

The word ‘noodle’, sometimes used to refer to pasta, comes from the Latin nodellus (‘little knot’), describing the tangles of pasta on the plate.

Contrary to what some say, pasta cooked al dente is better for you than well-cooked pasta.  If it’s slightly tough you chew, which breaks the pasta down and mixes it with digestive enzymes in your saliva. 

My favourite brand for dry pasta, fairly commonly available, is De Cecco.  Look out for the blue bags and boxes.  Their pasta is made using bronze die-cuts, which have irregular surfaces.  The defects in the bronze make loads of minuscule cuts in the pasta, leaving the surface rough and able to absorb sauces better than that left smooth and shiny by nylon moulds.  De Cecco also dries their pasta at low temperatures which leaves the pasta better able to retain its shape and strength during cooking.

Basic fresh egg pasta dough

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Fresh pasta dough can be made with just flour and water, or with a mixture of eggs and water, with whole eggs and/or egg yolks.  The more egg you use the easier the dough will be to handle and cook, and the more yolks you use the richer its golden colour will be.  Use genuinely free range eggs, as it is the hens’ diet of green things which makes their egg yolks orange.  If you don’t have special ‘OO’ (very fine) pasta flour 'di grano duro' (made from hard wheat, with high protein content), you can use regular plain flour and it will still work. I recommend the pasta flour available from Shipton Mill.


Pappardelle with spinach, Gorgonzola and walnuts

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Spinach, Gorgonzola and walnuts are a classic combination.  Feel free to use any shape of pasta!


Travels in Blood & Honey: stories & cooking with a beekeeper from Kosovo, Thurs 5th May 2011

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beekeeper E.jpgNettle pie, smoky red pepper relish, honey-drenched baklava, Kosovan wine and honey liqueur are just some of the treats in store for you at this special event to celebrate Elizabeth Gowing’s new book - Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo.  

smbaklavatest0020.JPGLike me, Elizabeth is fascinated by the stories surrounding food.  While I teach you how to make several of the delicious recipes featured in her book, Elizabeth will share tales of her remarkable food adventures in a beautiful country that most people know only as a war.  

Smborek0002.jpgIt's an auspicious evening for nettles too.  So while we munch on the nettle pie we've made, Elizabeth will explain how on 5th May in Kosovo people prepare to celebrate the Orthodox St George's Day, a celebration of the coming of summer and a time to ensure fertility and health in the year ahead, by gathering nettles to put under their pillow.  Come and celebrate with us!

bloodhoneyfrontcover.jpgTravels in Blood and Honey is out this month.  Get your signed copy at the class.

Date:  Thursday 5th May 2011

Time:  7pm - 10pm

Location:  London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)

Price:  £45, or
£80 for two

To book:  Email Anna
  Please read the booking terms & conditions before booking your place.  Thank you.


Culinary Anthropologist